Pilot Pirate: “Once Upon a Time,” “Prime Suspect”


Pilot: Prime Suspect
Writers: Alexandra Cunningham
Network: NBC
Logline: A female detective struggles to cut through the boys’ club as a New York homicide detective. A remake of the British series starring Helen Mirren.
Cast: Maria Bello (ER), Toby Stephens, Kirk Acevedo (Fringe), Tim Griffin (Grey’s Anatomy), Aidan Quinn (Third Watch), Joe Nieves (How I Met Your Mother)
Director: Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights)

Maria Bello

The characters:
Jane Timoney, likely the newest member of the Top Female Cops on TV list (Bello)
Kenny Rowe, squad commander (Quinn)
Matt Webb, Jane’s boyfriend (Stephens)
Phil Carter, former jock, homicide detective (Acevedo)
Don Korilko, homicide detective (Nieves)
Augie Blando, class-clown type, homicide detective (Griffin)

I admit it: I’ve never seen the original Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren. But I have become a recent convert to Law & Order: SVU and fan of Mariska Hargitay. So it’s only fitting that Bello, who recently wrapped a multiepisode guest stint on the NBC procedural (as a victim), snag the lead in NBC’s script for the British remake, which, like SVU, revolves around a tough female homicide detective.

The script here is more intense than SVU. Bello’s Detective Jane Timoney has a history of how she wound up at a new precinct and why all her fellow detectives are incredibly hard on her. The male detectives beat her to cases that should rightfully be hers for the taking. They insult her and warn her that she’ll never be able to infiltrate their network — the aptly dubbed “Beef Trust.”

But that doesn’t stop her. Instead, she sucks it up and bites her tongue, working cases and going against the grain, following her instincts and playing the game, standing up to her colleagues when needed. A determined woman fighting hard for what she wants in a man’s world.

The writing is strong and police cases quickly paced and layered with the personality conflicts among her colleagues as well as her personal life — boyfriend  Matt is fighting his ex-wife for rights to have his son spend the night at his place with Jane.

What’s best about this script is that Jane shows no weakness. Instead, she’s got a tough skin and only reveals her warm, kind and loyal side to those who do right by her without being overly gushy. Bello would be amazing to see return to TV series work — she was spectacular during her stint on NBC’s ER.

Where —or ifPrime Suspect goes beyond the pilot stage will be interesting. Yes, it’s another procedural, but one that we most certainly can get behind.

Pilot Pirate outlook: Primed for success.

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